My Jordans

My Jordans remind me of why I got into teaching. They are a symbol of the complexity of my personhood. On one hand, you have this body that aesthetically represents the urban, hood, street, “hip”, young, Black male. I cannot not think of a singular symbol of clothing that represents urban, hip-hop culture more than a pair of Jordans. But it is almost as if by wearing them you lose particular potential aspects of an “internal personality” by default. When I would wear my Jordans, yeah they gave me an added aspect of confidence. But I wonder what they thought of me, especially growing up in an era that I would term the rise of stereotypical assumptions, the pre-Obama era; the era of black men really and truly only being on the television or in the newspaper for three different career paths: the athlete, entertainer, or criminal. I did slightly wonder what they thought of me when I entered their classrooms and bought sour keys at their corner stores.


My Jordans are a part of my personality, a part of my upbringing. But my Jordans are complicated. I know that they are an immensely powerful social symbol but they also represent the problem with immensely powerful social symbols. My Jordans are such a symbol that they force many to degrees of boxed-in stereotypes and perceptions based simply upon their presence. Ironically, that is half the reason why I wear them…but it is also half the problem I have with them. My Jordans are complex, indeed.


I wore my Jordans as a student. I sometimes wear my Jordans as a teacher. Without sounding redundant, they represent all of me but nothing of me at the same time. At the end of the day, my Jordans speak a bit about the outside of me: my personality, style and perhaps character, but they say little to absolutely nothing about the inside of me: my drives, motivations, and abilities. That’s what we need to remember about my Jordans.


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Matthew R. Morris

Educator, Speaker, Writer

Matthew R. Morris is a writer, speaker, and elementary educator in Toronto. He has an M.A. in Social Justice Education from OISE at the University of Toronto and is the author of the forthcoming book, Black Boys Like Me. 

Matthew R. Morris

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